Through the Looking Glass: Qur’an 8:55

Sheila Musaji

Posted Nov 20, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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In an article by Pete Fisher called Surely the Vilest of Animals in Allahs Sight Are Those Who Disbelieve he mentions QurҒan 8:55 as an example of hateful speech in the Quran.  He appears to take this as a reference non-Muslims generally.

As is usually the case with those who abuse scripture to make a point, he takes a poor translation, takes a verse out of context, and then comes to wrong conclusions based on pre-conceived notions.  In the article he says:

ғ...But how can one argue with the words of the Koran? It is contained within the writings of Islam, world domination and eliminating the infidels is accepted and commanded.

And he closes his rambling discourse with :

ԓWhen are we going to begin suing Muslims and mosques that allow the Koran and Hadiths to be read and shouted from loud speakers across town? A town can outlaw Church bells for noise, but allow words of violence to be shouted from the mosques. When can we begin to sue anyone who practices Sharia and have them arrested for being contrary to our local and national laws? Maybe we should begin protesting any radio station or television station that is supportive of Islam or shows Islam in a light that disagrees with non-Mohammedans.

We should employ the same tactics of legal recourse that we have been attacked by and level the playing field. Take back our rights and allow all who disagree to leave our fine nation so they have the religious freedom they desire.

And why worry about Islamic opinion? After all we are the vilest of animals in the sight of Allah.

In a translation of this section of the Qur’an by Muhammad Asad which can be found online at  we find the following: 

”(52) [To them shall happen.] the like of what happened to Pharaoh’s people and those who lived before them: they denied the truth of God’s messages and so God took them to task for their sins. Verily, God is powerful, severe in retribution!  (53) This, because God would never change the blessings with which He has graced a people unless they change their inner selves: and [know] that God is all-hearing, all-seeing. (54) [To those sinners shall happen] the like of what happened to Pharaoh’s people and those who lived before them: they gave the lie to their Sustainer’s messages - and so We destroyed them in return for their sins, and caused Pharaoh’s people to drown: for they were evildoers all.  (55) Verily, the vilest creatures in the sight of God are those who are bent on denying the truth and therefore do not believe.`’  (56) AS FOR THOSE with whom thou hast made a covenant, and who thereupon break their covenant on every occasion, not being conscious of God-(57) if thou find them at war [with you], make of them a fearsome example for those who follow them, so that they might take it to heart; (58) or, if thou hast reason to fear treachery from people [with whom thou hast made a covenant], cast it back at them in an equitable manner:62 for, verily, God does not love the treacherous!  (59) And let them not think - those who are bent on denying the truth -that they shall escapee’ [God]: behold, they can never frustrate [His purpose].  (60) Hence, make ready against them whatever force and war mounts” you are able to muster, so that you might deter thereby the enemies of God, who are your enemies as well,6s and others besides them of whom you may be unaware, [but] of whom God is aware; and whatever you may expend in God’s cause shall be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.  (61) But if they incline to peace, incline thou to it as well, and place thy trust in God: verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing! (62)”

This chapter was revealed after the Battle of Badr and is referring specifically to the pagan disbelievers among the Qureish and not referring to the People of the Book.  Muhammad Asad comments about verse 55 that it obviously refers to all who are bent on denying the truth.  In another part of his lengthy commentary on this chapter he states that ԓThe reference to the unbelievers’ “breaking their covenants” has two implications: firstly, that the establishment of covenants (i.e., of peaceful relations) with non-Muslims is not only permissible but, in fact. desirable (cf. verse 61)

Notice that when you read the verses that come before and after this specific verse,  you come away with an entirely different understanding.  Particularly the last verse “But if they incline to peace, incline thou to it as well…”

For a longer discussion of this issue of misinterpretation of scriptures see The Use and Abuse of Scriptures at